I have just been moved to tears by "Man of La Mancha," the musical telling the story of Don Quixote De La Mancha. Conceptually, the scene and staging were brilliant. The actors and actresses embodied Don Quixote, Sancho Panza and the many "characters" of the story. The song and dance were moving - physically, mentally and emotionally. Bravo!
As moving as the production was, what moved me most was the story. If you're not familiar with what is often credited as the world's first novel, Cervantes' The Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote de La Mancha tells the tale of a man of lesser nobility, whose passion for reading about chivalrous times gone by, may have distorted his perceptions of reality and wavered his mental faculties, causing him to live out his dream as a knight-errant. He sees life not as it is, but as it should be, free of evil and hatred, and full of good and love. In a word, he is a dreamer. Don Quixote, as he chooses to be called, and those whose lives he touches, are not always rewarded kindly for sharing his perspective. Yet they embrace it as he does.
In his pursuit of his perfect vision of life, Don Quixote battles its "enemies" as a noble knight would. Unfortunately for him, his not-quite-clear mental state leads him to misplace his attacks, resulting in his jousting at windmills, which he believes are evil monsters. While this adds a bit of comedy to his situation, Don Quixote is sincere in his quest to make the world a better place.
As in the time of Don Quixote, and more likely that of Cervantes, a time in which there were countless reasons for one to want to believe life was better than it seemed, I find that the harsh realities of our world today cause me to dream of good and love, and the absence of evil and hatred, as well. I, too, am a dreamer. Dreaming alone may achieve nothing more than jousting at windmills achieves. And yet, without dreaming, there is no beginning on the journey toward that which we seek. We must dream first, in order to put our thoughts into actions aimed at taking us where we hope to go.
author of "JOY"